Single Girls and Grocery Stores
January 13, 2011
At the grocery store, I picked the shortest line, holding my Lean Cuisine meal. I stopped by to pick something up on the way home from work, too tired to cook, surprisingly too responsible to purchase fast food.
I hadn’t even put make up on. I wore a flannel shirt and jeans I’d pulled out of the laundry hamper, a ratty ponytail and a headband. On Thursdays, I work alone all day, and it didn’t seem necessary to put in any effort just to sit in the presence of my laptop. Admittedly, I had thought, What if you meet your future husband today? and decided that if I met my future husband, he’d better get used to this face. He’d wake up to it for the rest of our lives.
The guy in front of me was dark-haired. He had one of those ethnic noses that I love so much, the Adrien Brody type. Something dignified and proud about it. A nose that’s really prominent. A nose that’s not afraid to be a nose. A small package of toilet paper sat on the checkout counter, but not on the conveyer belt. When his groceries moved toward the cashier, the toilet paper stayed behind, like it was hiding. Who could blame it? Who would want a life condemned to… you know? Wouldn’t you rather just stay in that nice package, nuzzled together with your soft friends?
Maybe he would still notice the toilet paper, so I wouldn’t have to say anything — if it were a bag of apples or pistachios, it wouldn’t be quite so awkward. Excuse me sir, you may need this later, during that moment when you turn toward the roll in the bathroom and realize that there is only a cardboard cylinder, you know, while your pants are around your ankles.
The cashier greeted him. The belt moved forward. She scanned the other items, but the guy still didn’t look back to notice his toilet paper. There went the orange juice and the milk and the microwave popcorn. The yogurt. The frozen pizza. The package of kettle cooked chips. I couldn’t take it any longer. The Lean Cuisine meal was making my hands cold, and I wanted to set it down, but I didn’t want to get between a man and his toilet paper. I picked it up. “Is this yours?” I asked.
He looked at the small package, then at me. “No,” he said.
“Actually, that’s mine,” a voice said from behind, and then someone stepped in front of me. He was tall, dressed for work — a blue shirt and grey dress pants. Bright blue eyes, sandy hair, your typical SoCal boy. Hot as hell. Too hot.
Naturally, I decided to make a joke. “It’s very nice of your toilet paper to save your place in line,” I said.
I looked up into his eyes.
“Oh,” he said, looking away. “Heh.”
He turned aside.
I stood there, holding my Lean Cuisine. The cold was making my hand hurt. I grabbed the plastic divider wand and set it behind his toilet paper.
He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and looked at it.
I thought about my ratty hair and my lack of makeup, about my hamper jeans and my frozen dinner. I thought of Liz Lemon and was strangely comforted.
He wasn’t really my type anyway. Too pretty. I don’t date boys who could win contests. Furthermore, I personified his toilet paper right in front of him and didn’t get more than a “heh” out of him. His girlfriend is probably dumber than that glob of dried lotion that gets stuck in the pump between applications. He probably reads G.Q.
I pulled out my cell phone and pretended to text someone.